Bollywood review: Kamal Sadanah's ‘Roar’ offers no real thrills

It’s the call of the jungle for a team of commandos, who armed with their muscles, cargo pants and boots (and bag full of guns), head to the Sunderbans to kill a white tiger for “murdering” their leader’s brother.

It’s a twisted revenge saga that unfolds in the murky landscape of the Sunderbans, much to the dismay of the local cops, who are stationed to protect the creatures. Yet, the armed gang sail through, in search of their target, unperturbed. The cops appear early on in an attempt to sabotage the kill, but soon disappear from the narrative without a trace.

So, we are left to hang with Pandit and his team for much of the 120-minutes penned by director Kamal Sadanah and producer Abis Rizvi.

While Kamal surely wins points for taking the path less travelled in Bollywood, and skipping the mush for hardcore action of a different kind, he’s unable to weave together a coherent story. In fact, his thriller lacks the finesse or the texture it deserves, leaving us gawking at tigers that appear more animated than menacing. And, each attack more staged than real.

The special effects are unfortunately mediocre, and the excessive use of aerial shots reduces the impact massively. If anything it’s Resul Pookutty’s sound design that’s frightening, but few minutes down, even that loses its power.

The attacks are often shot through the eye of the tiger, and its overuse displays the lack of good technique to pull it through. There are no real thrills, and we are left annoyingly drained and devoid of any connect with Pandit and his daft bunch.

And, if the tiger doesn’t terrorise you, Kamal and Abis throw in slithering snakes and crocodiles to scare you. Each scene carries no relevance, and further drags the narrative.

The narrative is peppered with numerous illogical twists and turns. Like when the movie starts, Pandit decides to search for his brother’s body, but ends up plotting to kill the animal instead. Or, when his lady CJ suddenly flashes a tiger tracking device, and this when they had appointed the local lady tracker for the job.

‘Roar’ opens to the Sunderbans, lush with tropical goodness, but peppered with poachers and odd villagers. To a photographer, who had oddly decided to take home the tiger’s cub, in an effort to save it from the poachers. His brother Pandit arrives soon after his death, and quickly assembles his team, each sporting a name cheesier than the other, for the kill. There’s CJ, Cheena, Sufi, Kashimiri and Hero. And, while the men are dressed in tight t-shirts and cargos, to allow for ample flex-the-bicep shots, the lone female in the team gladly flaunts her “Princess Xena” warrior costume.

They are guided by the village boy Madhu, who had assisted the slain photographer and a tiger “tracker” Jhumpa in rags that allows for lots of (unnecessary) skin show.

Soon, the hunters become the hunted, and the tigers – a team of three – go for the kill, and take down one member at a time.

And, between all this, the movie shifts randomly from commercial cinema into a documentary, and there’s ample lecture on the sunderbans and the tigers.

Despite the intent to highlight a topical issue, the unintelligent plot reduces it into a movie of irrelevance.

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